Publications & Products
Volume 5, Issue 2

Advertising Grant Presents Opportunity for Media Exposure

Community college foundations can take advantage of a grant program from Google that offers nonprofits free advertising—which can help them promote their mission and increase their visibility on web search results.

Google Ad Grants is the nonprofit edition of AdWords, the online search company's advertising tool. The program lets nonprofit organizations build and manage their own AdWords account—similar to paying advertisers—but with a few restrictions. The nonprofit can spend no more than a daily budget of $329—which is equivalent to about $10,000 per month—and can only run keyword-targeted campaigns and text ads.

Educational institutions are not eligible for the program, but philanthropic arms of educational organizations-such as college foundations or separate nonprofit alumni associations-are eligible.

The Manchester Community College Foundation in Connecticut is among the organizations that has taken advantage of Google Ad Grants. Charlene Tappan, director of marketing and public relations, says the foundation has used the program to promote events and programs—from concerts and art exhibits to fitness programs and seminars for local professionals—at the college's new Arts and Education Center, located away from the main campus in downtown Manchester.

Tappan says the online advertising effort has proven successful. Advertisements for programming at the Arts and Education Center show up prominently in searches such as "art galleries in Manchester, Connecticut" or "live music in Manchester, Connecticut."

Tappan notes, however, the she has never approached the spending limit of $10,000 per month. Like most online advertising, Google charges based on the number of clicks each link gets. Tappan says she typically garners between $500 and $700 of in-kind advertising per month, based on the traffic generated from the advertisements.

To get the most out of the grant program, Tappan says she consulted with an advertising agency that had experience with AdWords to develop effective keyword targets. The college paid $3,000 to the ad agency for six months of work.

"We certainly more than paid for our investment in the ad agency," says Tappan, who notes that the college has been taking advantage of the grant for about a year.

Tappan says she would encourage other marketing professionals at community college foundations to consider signing up for Google Ad Grants.

"It's a great way to learn on someone else's dollar," she says. "It's about $120,000 in annual online ad spending that you could potentially tap into."

This article is from the Aug 2015 issue of the Community College Advancement News.

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